Last night, President Obama and Mitt Romney faced off in Denver, in what will likely go down in history as some of the most boring 90 minutes in the history of American television. It was scoreless high school soccer game boring. It was oil change repair shop vintage issue of Reader's Digest with country sensation Brad Paisley on the cover boring. But there were, actually, some interesting moments. Let's slog through them.
Mitt Romney brought his best manic cokeface to the debate, and Barack Obama acted sort of how I act after I've taken an over-the-counter sleeping pill, forgotten about it, and then suddenly become distracted by something on the internet for like an hour and then tried to call my brother to talk about it ("So... it's like... weird and stuff. What's going on with you? How is Minnesota town? I mean Minneapolis? Sorry, I just got distracted. What was I saying?"). Romney came out pugnacious, aggressive, bully-ish, and bloodshot. Obama just lolled around up there like he couldn't wait to get offstage.
Because of Mitt's aggression and Obama's apparent exhaustion, most pundits are saying that the night went to Romney. But Romney would have literally had to go onstage and punch a kitten in order for him to lose last night; "losing" the debate would have meant continuing his campaign's disastrous trajectory. Besides, Obama is ahead in every swing state. It would have been reckless for him to come out swinging and look like a jerk. If his goal was to make it through the debate without anything catastrophic happening, he succeeded. Which brings me to my next listicle point:
Liberals were not happy with the fact that Obama didn't open the debate by saying "47%. Car elevator. Legitimate rape. Corporations are people. Where are your tax returns? War on women." (drops mic, walks offstage) and no one was more upset than Chris Matthews, the DNC's shouting id. WATCH MORE CABLE NEWS, MISTER PRESIDENT.
Seriously, though, Rachel Maddow would have done a much better job in that debate.
8. Tonight, the role of Mitt Romney will be played by some guy who would never have won the GOP primary.
Who the fuck was this guy? After a year and a half of campaigning on promises that if elected, he'll govern like Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan's Mormon lovechild, when he took the stage last night, he spent 90 minutes pretending to be the guy who ran for Senate against Ted Kennedy in 1994, or for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002. He denied that his tax plan says what it says and paid lip service to teachers while his plan would likely cut tens of thousands of teaching jobs.
Jim Lehrer, or, as I like to call him, "Fake TV Grandpa #2," came out of semi-retirement to moderate this debate. And by "moderate this debate," I mean get shouted at and steamrolled by Mitt Romney. Obama got a few mod punches in, too; his best moment during the debate came when he told Lehrer that he still had 5 seconds to talk because Lehrer interrupted him.
Like every performance of choreographed political theater, while both candidates dropped a lot of numbers, they weren't really talking specifics. Lots of sentences like this one from Romney: "I'll restore the vitality that gets America working again."
Reflect on that for a moment. Is that a motto for a vibrating Japanese face sponge? What does that even mean? What vitality? Working how? Restoring back to what? How does someone respond to that? "Restore? The only restorations you'll do on America's vitality is the kind that old lady did when she ruined that Jesus fresco in Spain."
Despite his non-pants-shitting performance, there were still a few moments of off-putting weirdness in the debate. Specifically, this quote:
"I've got five boys. I'm used to people saying something that's not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I'll believe it."
I'm now concerned with Mitt Romney's merry band of sociopaths roaming the country.
Speaking of lies, Mitt Romney used last night to resurrect the idea of Obamacare being akin to a government takeover of medical care, which was Politifact's 2010 Lie of the Year. Yes, Mitt Romney is very familiar with falsehoods that get repeated over and over again as fact.
4. Apparently "domestic issues" don't involve LGBTQ issues, women's health, equal pay, student loan debt, or immigration.
Last night's debate was supposed to address "domestic issues," but what we got was a 90-minute bicker sesh about Social Security, Medicare, and taxes with brief forays into education. This may have been because both campaigns assume that only old people watch TV, but Obama missed a huge opportunity to connect with the millions of young voters who were in the process of making the debate the most tweeted-about political event in history. Nothing about women's issues? Okay. I guess we should save that debate for The View, the place where ladies kvetch about their silly, fluffy economic well-being as it pertains to their gender and roles as mothers and caretakers.
During the debate, coveted appliance-maker KitchenAid sent out a terribly dickish Tweet from its official Twitter account that read,
Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! She died 3 days b4 he became president!
The tweet was almost immediately deleted and the company apologized, but not before it was picked up and spread around. Even perennial a-holes like Michelle Malkin thought the joke was in poor taste.
Looks like the manufacturer of stand up mixers isn't exactly stand-up.
"I'm sorry, Jim, I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I'm going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird, I actually like you, too. But I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for."
And here we come to the quote that launched a million joke tweets. Mitt Romney actually threatened to fire a guy onstage who is paid by an entity that uses .00014% of the federal budget. This is Mitt Romney's solution to help reduce the national debt. Shit on Big Bird.
The internet responded, and within minutes, a Big Bird Twitter account responded with sad resignation, followed by angry fire. A picture of Big Bird holding a sign that read "WILL WORK FOR FOOD" was shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook.
This was the least boring moment in the debate last night. A major party presidential candidate promising to force all Sesame Street Muppets into Oscar the Grouch-style poverty.
Okay, liberals. Stop freaking out. There are two debates left, one of which will be moderated by CNN's Candy Crowley. The last debate before the election is on foreign policy, an area in which Obama has a popular (albeit bloody) record with voters and a fairly high approval rating.
Secondly, any correlation between the "winner" of a debate and the "winner" of an election is tenuous, at best. John Kerry "won" all three debates in 2004. Al Gore won one debate in 2000. Bill Clinton only "won" one of three debates in 1992.
And finally, the only people left who haven't decided who they're voting for are what's known as "low information voters." AKA people who spent last night blithely not giving a shit about the debate. I envy them.
If you want to make this image your Facebook cover photo, here it is at the correct dimension!